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January 19, 2012, 2:07 EST – Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

I spent my second full day in Kinshasa with the HOPE Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) staff. Once again I spent the day in the field: this time visiting repayment meetings. As I said in yesterday’s post, since the election at the end of November, things have been unsettled in the capital city of Kinshasa. The staff is working hard to get our program back to normal, working hard to catch up on both repayments (collecting payments on existing loans) and disbursements (distributing new loans). So while I wasn’t able to see a normal operating environment while I was in Kinshasa, I did manage to cram a lot of action into two short days. Continue Reading…

January 18, 2012, 4:33 EST – Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

I’m exhausted this evening, so this post will be short. I truly lived the life of a loan officer today, and as a result, I’m ready for an early bedtime.

HOPE Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has had a challenging couple of months, starting with the general elections that took place on November 28. There were accusations of fraud and tampering even before the election happened, and as you’d imagine, those cries grew louder after the election.

When the results were released, the incumbent was proclaimed the winner by a huge margin, which led to violence across the country in early to mid-December. Cognizant of recent unrest in other African countries, we decided to temporarily stop loan disbursements (new and renewal loan payouts), because we did not want to put our staff and clients in harm’s way. The unrest abated just as the country celebrated the Christmas holiday, followed by several DRC national holidays. The consequence is that we’re tracking behind our disbursement schedule, and the HOPE DRC team is hustling to catch up. I rode around Kinshasa with Seguy, one of our supervisors, and Sarah Simba, our executive assistant in HOPE DRC, who helped me out with translation. Continue Reading…

January 17, 2012, 12:15 EST – Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

I send you greetings from Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kinshasa is right across the Congo River from Brazzaville. It’s about a 10-minute boat ride. Sounds like an easy day, right?

I started the morning at HOPE Congo in Brazzaville. My plan was to spend the morning with Manny Palis, our managing director of HOPE Congo, and his leadership team, then leave in the early afternoon to catch the ferry to Kinshasa. After morning devotions I parted ways with Peter Greer, who is flying back to the States, and David Johnson, who is flying to Liberia for his next photo shoot. Then, at about 10:30 a.m., we got a call from the HOPE DRC staff, saying that since today is a national holiday in DRC, the last ferry leaves at noon. Uh oh. We hustle over to the river crossing. Fortunately Manny was kind enough to come with me so we could finish our conversation. Continue Reading…